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The House

The Holbrook-Trufant House
from Sally Rand’s historic preservation survey

Approximate date: 1860-70
Italianate style
Barn torn down.
House purchased by Edward Holbrook in 1908
1857 map Watson & Garland; 1871 map A Trufant

Excerpt from letter from Sara C. (Sally) Albertson (Sebasco Estates) to Christine Holbrook Miller, Feb 27, 1983:

The house you live in was built by Albert and Sarah Trufant, probably in the 1840’s. They were my great grandparents. She was Sarah Watson. They had three children — Addie (Adelaide), Aunt Bert (Albertina), and William. …Addie Trufant married Frank Ridley and they built the little house down by the water by your house. That was the house in which my mother, 3 sisters, and one brother were born. Grandfather Ridley had a livery stable and ran the stage to Brunswick — from the barn that belonged to your house. …I have a large framed photograph of the house taken probably in the late 1880s — several people in the photo and the clothes they were wearing would suggest that date. There was a rather high white picket fence around the house and two huge horse-chestnut trees in front of it.

Notes from Elsa’s conversation with Judy Briggs, June 2005, and Lewis Stuart, July 2005

The “little house” was torn down in 2002. Judy lived in that house until she was 13 years old. The new house built on that site is owned by Sue and Gary Hawkes. The barn was torn down in the late 1950s.

from Sally Rand’s letter, Oct 31, 1990, to Christine

The Weston Milliken deeds to and from Trufant I think are a story of mortgage…the transfer (of the land) taking place within a year, and a half…. It will take a little more digging to figure out the builder and date of the smaller house (moved), but I am sure that our cupola-ed house was built by Albert and Sarah Trufant around 1868-70 — perhaps coinciding with the Milliken mortgage. And, alas, poor William A. Trufant — losing the place, apparently to the Topsham & Brunswick 25¢ Bank….

From Cumberland County Registry of Deeds, book 775, page 86, Sept 8, 1905

FORECLOSURE
Harry H. Holbrook & Charles W. Thompson, both of Harpswell, certify that Walter D. Hatch of Brunswick in said County on the eighth day of September 1905, acting in his capacity as Treasurer of the Topsham & Brunswick Twenty-Five Cent Savings Bank, a corporation created by law&hellipentered peaceably and openly, no one opposing, in our presence, and took possession of the land and buildings situated in said Harpswell on Great Island conveyed by mortgage deed of William A. Trufant to Addie H. Ridley on February 5, 1901… having been assigned by the said Addie G. Ridley to the said Topsham & Brunswick 25¢ Savings Bank…for the avowed purpose of foreclosing said mortgage because of a breach of the condition thereof.

From Sally (Sara C.) Albertson – “a friend of Christine Miller”

September 8, 1989
REPORT TO MRS. CHRISTINE MILLER
RE: PROPERTY LOCATED IN CUNDY’S HARBOR, MAINE

In 1835, John Purinton of Harpswell purchased the subject property from Stephen Merritt of Harpswell. There was no further trace of this property until 1867. Albert Trufant of Harpswell purchased the property from George Garland of Gloucester, Massachusetts and Sidney Watson of Harpswell.

In 1869, Albert Trufant sold this property to Weston Milliken of Cumberland County for $3,500.00. In 1870, Albert Trufant purchased the property back from Weston Milliken. This appeared to be some kind of Mortgage transaction, but I do not believe that such a thing as a mortgage deed existed at that time (I am not positive on this fact, but, from the records this appears to be what occurred.)

In 1885, Albert Trufant deeded the property to his wife Sarah Trufant. She deeded this property to Frank and Addie Ridley, who was the daughter and son-in-law of Albert and Sarah Trufant. This took place in 1891.

In 1907, Edward Holbrook, a/k/a/ William E. Holbrook, purchased the property from Frank Ridley. It was held by Edward Holbrook, a/k/a/ William E. Holbrook until his death in 1954. The property was conveyed to Christine Miller (yourself) in 1954 as the only living heir of Edward Holbrook, a/k/a/ William E. Holbrook.

[Following notes added to the report by an unknown person.]

Addition: Albert & Sarah (Watson) Trufant build Christine’s house in the harbor around 1850. They had 3 children:
Addie (Adelaide) m,. Frank Ridley.
Aunt Bert (Albertina)
William.
She thinks Addie and Frank Ridley lived in the little house next to Christine’s.

From Elsa’s interview with Sid Watson, February 21, 1989

As near as I can find out, the Thompson family must have been awfully early settlers here. They called it Thompson’s Cove for awhile. I don&rquo;t know why they changed it to Cundy’s Harbor. Until Capt. Cundy showed up, there’s no record of him hardly at all. Mr. Cundy sort of disappeared I guess. He must have been a good powerful man or something to get it named for him; he didn’t stay here very long.

The Point was the Purinton farm. This was the Thompson farm. The whole harbor land here came off the Thompson farm. Purinton wouldn’t let them settle it. That’s why we’re so crowded in here; there’s hardly room for fishermen to build their houses. It was crowded, just like a city. The houses from here up to Stuarts are about as near together as they are in the city, awfully close together. They couldn’t get bigger lots; that’s all the room they could get in front of the harbor here. Thompson was the only one would sell any land. This was all a big farm to just below the Holbrook store. That was the Purinton farm. …The road went in close to the (Thompson farmhouse). They didn’t like it so close to the house. They swapped, gave them the land out here for the road.

Excerpt from Harpswell on Casco Bay: Its Early History and Shipbuilding, by William T. Alexander, 1973

Condy’s, now Cundy’s Harbor, was named for William Condy who in 1733 leased, and subsequently purchased, a tract of land on Great Island. It is said that the yearly rental was to be the annual delivery of “twenty good fat geese.” This name was not corrupted to its present form for many years, as the 1823 records speak of a wreck on “Condy’s Point.”

From an undated newspaper clipping

‘Legends” at center of life in Cundy”s Harbor
Along the Coast – Millie Stewart

Their home, believed built after the Civil War, is the big house that serves as the turnaround at the public end of the point. “We used to be able to see for miles from our cupola,” Christine said, “but now everything has grown up so. Back of the store here there used to be a field. That was before Cundy Point was built up.”

From Elsa’s interview with Christine in January 1989

The original store burned 60 years ago. It was bigger than this store is. That’s the house. There used to be horse chestnut trees in the front; they rotted. One of the hurricanes took one of them down; he had to take the other down&hellip. Old wharf used to be back of the old store. All a lot different from the way wharves are today.

My father used horses; used to be a barn out here.

Note from Elsa’s conversation with Judy Briggs, June 2005

The barn was at the north end of the house; it was torn down in late 1950s.

Originally the turnaround road went close to the front of the house. In the late 1990s, the current owners moved the road away from the house and below the hill.

The Store

From Pejepscot Historical Society

April 18, 1845
Division of Real Estate of Stephen Purinton (Harpswell) among his heirs

The lot of land, buildings, wharfs and privileges thereto belonging on said island containing one acre more or less, called the fish stand and adjoining the Merritt farme at seven hundred and fifty dollars. [This land eventually became Holbrook’s wharf and store.]

To Almira Merritt Wife of Henry Merritt an heir at law of said deceased we have set off as her share or part of said Real Estate the following described part and parcel thereof to wit the lot of land, buildings, wharf and privileges thereto belonging situated on said Harpswell Island adjoining the Merritt farme containing one acre more or less called the fish stand being all of the same premises conveyed to the deceased by John M. Purinton at seven hundred and fifty dollars….

notes from Elsa’s conversation with Lewis Stuart July 2005

The store was deeded to Trufant, Ridley, and then Holbrook. The sign above the door: Holbrook’s General Store, established 1898. It burned in the 1930s and was rebuilt.

From undated article by John Cole: “Tendin’ Store at Cundys Harbor

[quoting Sid Watson] “My great-grandfather Watson built the first store here. Came up from Gloucester on a schooner. No, it ain’t much or a harbor. Sea piles in here when the wind blows southeast. But it’s deep water, and the fishermen keep their boats here. I guess that’s what prompted my great-grandfather to stay. …He was a fisherman when he sailed in here. The store was something he started because there wasn’t any place here to keep the town going. And he liked this harbor. I guess you could say this place has always had one of its feet in the water.”

From Sally Rand’s historic preservation survey

Casco Bay Directory of 1904-5 lists an advertisement (p.54) for William A Trufant, Cundys Harbor: “Grocery, Provision & Fish Dealer… We aim to carry a complete line in each of several departments in our store. Fancy Crackers, Canned Goods and everything for the Camper found here. Boots, Shoes and Rubber Goods of Every Description. Paints, Oils, Oil clothing and Fishing Gear. Also Bait…. We fit schooners at prices equal to any. Wholesale and Retail Dealer in FRESH FISH, LOBSTERS, Etc. We will ship anywhere in the United States. We want your business. Our prices are low.”

Casco Bay Directory 1927-8 Advertisement: p. 69
E.W. HOLBROOK Cundys Harbor, Maine GROCERIES AND PROVISIONS
Confectionery, Cigars, Ice cream by Plate or Measure. Paints, Oils, Fishing Gear, Oil Clothing. Wholesale and Retail dealer in Fish and Lobsters. Souvenir Post Cards. Post Office in Store — Tel 66-5.
p. 231: Mails (Sebascodegan Island) Cundys Harbor p.o. (Mrs. Alice F. Holbrook, postmaster) Mail, Cundy’s Hbr. Mails arrive 5.15 p.m., depart 7.45 a.m. Money order office.

Advertisement photocopy Casco Bay Directory 1908-1909

Edward W Holbrook Groceries and Provisions
Cundy’s Harbor, Maine
We carry everything to supply the table, and we will endeavor to please you. Cigars, confectionery, Etc. Ice Cream Parlor connected, served by plate or measure. Cundy’s Harbor livery and express. Horses to let with careful driver. Baiting, hitching, etc. Passengers carried to and from Brunswick daily. [note: Webster’s Dictionary 1940: bait: to feed, esp. upon the road; as, to bait horses.]

From an undated newspaper clipping

‘Legends’ at center of life in Cundy’s Harbor
Along the Coast — Millie Stewart

There are two legends along the Maine coast I would like you to meet: Christine Holbrook Miller and Sidney Watson, storekeepers in Cundy’s Harbor….

Christine has worked in Holbrook’s Store, started by her father in 1908, “since I could count out a penny’s worth of candy.” She also serves the postal needs of the community as “clerk in charge” of the contract station out of the Brunswick Post Office, and people are in and out of the store all day for their mail.

In addition to the store, Christine and her husband Ralph own the wharf, where 10 or more draggers come and go with loads of fish, and the snack bar. They lease out both.

Their home, believed built after the Civil War, is the big house that serves as the turnaround at the public end of the point. “We used to be able to see for miles from our cupola,” Christine said, “but now everything has grown up so. Back of the store here there used to be a field. That was before Cundy Point was built up.” …She tends the store. Her hours are long, opening around 7:30 a.m. and going home at 4 p.m., with more help coming in until 7 p.m.

When summer people return to Cundy’s, what do they want most to know or to talk about? “What an awful winter it must have been,” Christine says with a grin, noting that more and more summer people are becoming three- and even four-season residents. One of Christine’s customers whenever she’s at her summer home is former U.S. Sen. Margaret Chase Smith, who has a place at the end of Cundy Point.

From an article written by Patricia Van Wagoner

Epping, NH 03042
April 21, 1992

CHRISTINE: PORTRAIT OF A MAINE LADY
Christine Miller isn’t part of America’s mobile society. She has lived all her life in the house where she was born (Oct 12, 1917) 74 years ago in the little coastal village of Cundy’s Harbor, Maine.

The piece of waterfront property also included a store that was struggling along until they took it over and renamed it Holbrook&rquo;s store. “There weren’t any other stores around,” Christine muses. “Supplies came by boat from Portland. I can remember the big barrels of molasses and salt pork and the sides of beef. No one had cars in those days, so you couldn’t get around like you can now.”

Besides the local customers, people came by boat from Sebasco and Phippsburg across a broad stretch of the New Meadows River. They didn’t have automobiles either, so shopping by boat was more convenient. The original store burned some 60 years ago and the present building replaced it. The sturdy white clapboard structure is utilitarian, its lines simple and unadorned. In the summer, flower-filled window boxes brighten the front of the store. The barrels have been replaced by canned goods and boxes and plastic containers.

Christine works in the store seven days a week, a total of about 50 hours. The fun part for her is the people and the store is a sort of community center and meeting place. Early birds stop in when she opens at 7:00 a.m. for a hot cup of coffee and conversation. A little inside the door is a heavy post, support both for the ceiling and all sorts of advertisements and announcements. Phone numbers and dates. Things lost and things found. The life of a small town hanging from thumbtacks. Halfway down the left side of the one-room store is a low counter with a pile of daily newspapers with subscribers’ names penned in on the top, some candy and odds and ends, a cash register and Christine at her chair.

Customers lean or pull up a metal folding chair to chat a bit. When conversation tends toward a controversial topic like a marina down the road, she says she prefers to stay away from it because she hears a different story from everyone. For much of the year her customers are local residents, but in the summertime a whole array of people tromp in and out. Rubber-booted lobstermen. Tanned boaters needing supplies and a cold drink. Children in search of a treat, clutching sticky coins. Neighbors gossiping. Summer folks picking up their mail and commenting on the weather.

Many years ago, Christine remembers her father running a stage between Cundy’s Harbor and Brunswick and bringing back the mail. Then, a corner of the store was set aside for a full-fledged post office, but the government closed it when people became part of a postal star route. The cluster of brass mail boxes is still there with a grilled opening in the middle. Through it you catch a glimpse of a cluttered office. Christine sells stamps and hands out the mail to those residents who have it sent to General Delivery in care of Holbrooks Store, Cundy’s Harbor, Maine.

There is no gaudy commercialism in Cundy’s Harbor. Tourists do visit in the summer, but few stay because there are virtually no rental places. Summer residents from the nearby islands come in for supplies and mail. About the only difference in the summer folk that Christine sees is that there used to be more wealth than now. “They used to have servants and chauffeurs.” She notices that some island cottages aren’t always opened each year because the grown children have lost interest or find the maintenance too costly in terms of both time and money.

The one summer “hot” spot in Cundy’s Harbor is the Snack Bar, located behind the store out over the water. Day in and day out, the ordinary and extraordinary. The ebb and flow of the tide, events, and people. The door of the store opens and slams; the telephone rings.

[noted at the end of this article: “edited at Christine Miller’s Request by N.A. Meikle]

From Elsa’s interview with Christine in January 1989

…The original store burned 60 years ago. It was bigger than this store is. That’s the house. There used to be horse chestnut trees in the front; they rotted. One of the hurricanes took one of them down; he had to take the other down….Old wharf used to be back of the old store. All a lot different from the way wharves are today.

Note from Elsa’s conversation with Judy Briggs, June 2005

When the store burned, it was rebuilt in the same place.

From Elsa’s interview with Sid Watson Feb 21, 1989

Storekeeper’s joke: Crackers were kept in an open barrel. A woman came in to complain, “I think there are mice in your cracker barrel.” “No, there can’t be; the cat sleeps there all night.”

From photocopy of article with photos: Maine Coast Fisherman, December 1959

Cundy’s Harbor — A mid-coast Maine village where fishing is the way of life
By Lyman Owen — Saltwater Highlights

Holbrook’s: Winter Social Center

You’ll come to Holbrook’s Store and Wharf right at the end of the public road. You’ll be greeted there by Mrs. Christine Miller, store owner and postmaster, whose father, Edward Holbrook, bought the store from Albert Ridley in 1908 and ran it until his death in 1953. In the early 1900’s, the store and wharf did a big salt fish and grocery business, people coming across the New Meadows River from Phippsburg and Sebasco to do their trading. Today, however, because of increased transportation facilities, 90 percent of Mrs. Miller’s business is in lobsters. She can store about 10,000 pounds at once, turning over about 100 tons a year. At the peak of the season, she buys from about 25 fishermen, and from five or six in the winter.

Christine Miller is a quiet, congenial woman, with a typical Down East sense of humor. In the stormy and sometimes desolate days of winter, her emporium is a congregating place for card-playing and general conversation, with sidelines like upholstering, knitting, and sewing often worked in.

…Instead of funeral flowers, (at the death of Mr. Pulsifer in 1958), contributions were made in honor of Mr Pulsifer to a fund for the establishment of a library at Cundy’s…. Books from a former schoolhouse library had been stored upstairs over Holbrook’s Store for some seven or eight years.

From photocopy of article with photos: Maine Coast Fisherman, January 1953

Cundy’s Harbor Fishermen Pitch In To Haul Boats on Bank
Winter Cribbage Starts, Boat To Build, & Gear To Get Ready
By Jerry McCarty

The chair creaked as Uncle Ed Holbrook leaned forward to catch the question. “Picture of me?” he asked. “What for? Want to break that fancy camera of yours?…. Go good up there with those others,” he said dryly, pointing up at the wanted posters on the wall of the post office. Getting up he walked slowly around the counter and returned with an armload of empty beer bottles. Deploying a few around his feet, he sat down next to the stove and gestured with an empty quart. “Go to it. Wouldn’t want anyone to get the idea things were too quiet here in the winter.”

The Wharf

from Pejepscot Historical Society

April 18, 1845
Division of Real Estate of Stephen Purinton (Harpswell) among his heirs

The lot of land, buildings, wharfs and privileges thereto belonging on said island containing one acre more or less, called the fish stand and adjoining the Merritt farme at seven hundred and fifty dollars. [This land eventually became Holbrook’s wharf and store.]

To Almira Merritt Wife of Henry Merritt an heir at law of said deceased we have set off as her share or part of said Real Estate the following described part and parcel thereof to wit the lot of land, buildings, wharf and privileges thereto belonging situated on said Harpswell Island adjoining the Merritt farme containing one acre more or less called the fish stand being all of the same premises conveyed to the deceased by John M. Purinton at seven hundred and fifty dollars.

Notes from conversation with Lewis Stuart in July 2005, and the Report by Sally Albertson, September 8, 1989

The old wharf was built between 1853-1855 by Sidney Watsons. It was sold to Albert Trufant in 1867; he deeded the property to his wife Sarah in 1885. She deeded it to Addie and Frank Ridley, her daughter and son-in-law, in 1891. Edward Holbrook, aka William Holbrook, purchased the property from Frank Ridley in 1907. The old wharf collapsed in a hurricane, 1938 or soon thereafter.

The present wharf was built in 1945-46 by Reed & Reed for Ed Holbrook, who leased the wharf to Juliano Brothers. They trucked fish to Boston. The property was inherited by Christine Miller in 1954.

Note from conversations with Judy Briggs, June 2005 and Lewis Stuart July 2005

The “old wharf” was located where the small grocery dock and float are now. The grocery wharf was built by Luther Pinette for Ed Holbrook. Paul Tiemer built the floats and had a marina, renting boats. This property was inherited by Christine Miller in 1954.

In the late 1950s or early 1960s, a sea moss dock was situated just beyond the grocery wharf. It was torn down; the rocks that served as a foundation on the shore are still visible.

From an undated newspaper clipping

‘Legends’ at center of life in Cundy’s Harbor
Along the Coast — Millie Stewart

In addition to the store, Christine and her husband Ralph own the wharf, where 10 or more draggers come and go with loads of fish, and the snack bar. They lease out both.

From Elsa’s interview with Christine in January 1989

The original store burned 60 years ago. It was bigger than this store is. That’s the house. There used to be horse chestnut trees in the front; they rotted. One of the hurricanes took one of them down; he had to take the other down…. Old wharf used to be back of the old store. All a lot different from the way wharves are today.

The Snack Bar

From conversation with Judy Briggs, June 2005

There has been a restaurant on the wharf since 1959. Judy’s sister, Joanne, worked there. The first restaurant was run by Emore Alexander; he sold lobsters, hamburgers, hotdogs, etc.

From an article written by Patricia Van Wagoner

Epping, NH 03042
April 21, 1992

CHRISTINE: PORTRAIT OF A MAINE LADY
…The one summer “hot” spot in Cundy’s Harbor is the Snack Bar, located behind the store out over the water. It does a brisk business from Memorial Day to Labor Day, serving lobsters and shrimp, clam cakes and fish fillets to locals, islanders, tourists, and boaters. They make the best desserts in the area, specializing in seasonal fruit creations — pies and cobblers and shortcakes, Indian pudding, and chocolate bread pudding. Christine owns the Snack Bar and agrees that, “Henry is a good cook.” (Henry D’Alessandris and Martin Perry have run the Snack Bar for seven seasons.)